Monday, May 31, 2010

NZ MUSIC MONTH #6: The Underdogs "Wasting My Time" (1971)

In the 60s the Underdogs were a blues band and their biggest hit was a cover of John Mayall's "Sitting In The Rain",  landing them the support slot for John Mayall when he played in Auckland which is maybe an awkward situation when you think about it.

By 1971, after more line-up changes than I care to explain, they had somehow transformed into a garage psych band  - this is real, raw, underground shit, sounding like practice room recordings. There are some tough original songs in this bunch with great guitar work,  although you have to allow some charity for the vocals rather loose relationship with the tune at times. 

Thanks to the obscurity of our exotic nation, this LP goes for loot among overseas psych collectors, though I shan't be retiring on the proceeds as my copy is sleeveless and hence unmarketable (found wedged between two New Seekers LPs in a pile of throwaways, so, can't complain).

The Underdogs -  Every Little Thing
The Underdogs - It's A Blessing
The Underdogs - Is He Going To Die

If anyone has an empty sleeve for this album get at me: we can sell this to a bearded man in Kent and go halves on a jacuzzi.

Better than records

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NZ MUSIC MONTH #5: SJD vs. Sola Rosa vs. Savage, Con Psy, & Scribe - "Not Many" (Doggziller blend) - (2004)

This one popped up on shuffle this morning and I thought it might be worth a re-visit for NZ Music Month - a blend of the acapella from the remix of Scribe's breakout hit "Not Many", over an SJD remix of a Sola Rosa joint that came out around the same time (I forgot the name - the record will be around here somewhere I suppose), blended together by Yours Truly. So that is 100% NZ artists + 100% a guy from NZ who owns a mixer, two turntables, and kinda knows how to use the pitch shift. And about three layers of remixing.

(A cute detail about this song is when Scribe yells "reeeeeeeee-miiiiiiiix", ain't nobody do that no more. Times was, you always immediately yelled "REMIX" when there was a remix. I miss that.)

This blend was done in accordance with the Old School, it is just two records playing at the same time, you can even hear where I was trying to correct for timing slips by giving the record a nudge. As I no longer have the original recording, this is lifted straight from the 2004 mix that I used it in, hence the somewhat abrupt start and finish.


SJD vs. Sola Rosa vs. Savage, Con Psy, & Scribe - Not Many (Doggziller Blend)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NZ MUSIC MONTH #4: The Golden Horn Big Band, self-titled (1974)

Decently funky big-band jazz out of Wellington with an unusual mix of obvious ("Shaft", "Corazon") and non-obvious covers (opening the album with Malo's "Latin Boogaloo"?)

Musical direction is by Rodger Fox who was part of Quincy Conserve at around the same time, and who continues to work in this vein today in his eponymous big band (keeping trombonists off the streets since 1978!)

The Golden Horn Big Band - Hikky Burr
The Golden Horn Big Band - Dead Ringer

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NEW ZEALAND MUSIC MONTH #3: The Chapta "One" (1971)

Today's selection "Journey to the Sun" is cherry-picked from The Chapta's first album - amid a set of otherwise fairly straightforward pop-rock, someone decided to cut a freaky psych tune (my money says it was the Two Ronnies looking dude on the lower left).

Having listened carefully to the lyrics of this song I can confirm that in true psychedelic fashion, they are a bunch of nonsense - my guess is that the boys were stoned one day and decided that it was "about time someone gave the Sun some props". The change in the chorus where "Apollo" is exhorted to "shine [his] light" is a bit over the top but otherwise there's little to fault with this tune, the rise and fall of the synth at the start has me foaming at the mouth in particular. I'm unreliably informed that in 1971 the only synthesizer in New Zealand was held in an acoustics research lab at Victoria University so I guess the lads must have signed it out for the afternoon.

"Journey to the Sun" was not released as an album or B-side and was perhaps considered filler at the time - in retrospect it is the stand-out tune of the album. It should be noted that this is available alongside a number of excellent cuts on the compilation "A Day in My Mind's Mind"  (the Salvation and 40 Watt Banana tracks on there are some SERIOUS HEAT).

The Chapta - Journey to the Sun

Sunday, May 9, 2010

NZ MUSIC MONTH #2: Waves, S/T (1975)

I have given it much consideration and this is, without a doubt, my favourite folk album ever.
I think all record collectors and lovers of music generally will agree that it is a rare for an album to have only good tracks on it. In fact if an album has more than even one good track it is already in something like the top 5% of all albums ever.  Complete, flawless albums are much discussed and rarely agreed upon - even the White Album had stupid bloody "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da" on it. Even "Illmatic" had "Life's a Bitch" in there to soil the sheets.

So, such albums are rare, but this is one of them. It is a superb set of songs, mainly arranged around acoustic guitar and percussion, excellently performed and ever so delicately dusted with studio effects for a light psychadelic glaze. It is exceptionally tasteful.

This is the band's only LP and there is not a lot of information available on-line - apparently they did a re-union gig a few years ago (while I was living in Japan, unfortunately). Criminally, "Waves" has never been re-issued - and given that the last second-hand copy I saw in the wild was going for a cool hundy, I considered it a urgent matter of cultural improvement that a recording be made available from the link below: 

Waves - self-titled album

Monday, May 3, 2010

NZ MUSIC MONTH 2010 #1 - Quincy Conserve "Listen To The Band" (1970)

Having myself once appeared as a "professional dancer" in a New Zealand music video - a fact both inexplicable and hilarious - I'm well aware that in the Kiwi music scene, folks generally ain't got a lot of budget and you need to trade favours where you can. So I think we can safely explain the grimacing woman on the cover of this album, as... well... a friend of the band. A gift horse, shall we say, whose mouth has most assuredly not been inspected.

The Quincy Conserve was a local equivalent of American "jazz/rock" or "brass-rock" bands such as Blood, Sweet & Tears or early Chicago, a style of music that was pretty hot in the early '70s - basically around the time that significant numbers of white people first started wanting to play something like funk, but before most of them were comfortable saying as much.

The Quincy Conserve were one of the best local bands of the 1970s and their first two albums are little acknowledged classics. I'll most likely post about their second LP "Epitaph" later in the month, for now, here's my three favourites from "Listen to the Band":
The Quincy Conserve - Ride the Rain
Penned by drummer Bruno Lawrence, this strong, slightly psychadelic tune was the biggest hit on the album and was a finalist for the "Loxene Golden Disc" awards, the contemporary equivalent of the RIANZ awards, sponsored (oddly enough) by a shampoo. Despite this contribution to the band's success, by 1971 Bruno was out of the line-up, apparently due to his rascally behaviour (a habit of performing impromptu armpit fart concertos while frontman Malcolm Hayman was speaking between songs has been cited as one aggravating factor in their fraught relationship)...and as all patriots know, Bruno went on instead to form the very crucible of Kiwi male identity in landmark films such as 1982's "Battletruck".

"Men must be strong, like Battletruck."

The Quincy Conserve - Frustration
Another toothy original which cleverly references a second cornerstone of our national identity with backing vocals that mimic the cries of sheep and lambs.

Our national identity explained.

Bruno's drumming on this track is especially choice. 

The Quincy Conserve - Somebody Stole My Thunder
This is a cover of a track by Georgie Fame, which in my ultra-nationalistic opinion edges out the original.

The Conserve broke up in 1976, but had an unexpected boost in profile a couple of years ago when TV2 released a promo built around the song "Aire of Good Feeling" from "Epitaph", consequently both "Ride the Rain" and "Frustration" are available in high quality, legitimate versions along with a number of highlights from the Conserve's other albums. I commend all true patriots to COP THAT SHIT.